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US museum professional gives sole NZ lecture

Leading US museum professional gives sole NZ lecture at Govett-Brewster

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is to present the only New Zealand lecture by Kevin E. Consey, director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California, Berkeley. “Consey is the most significant museum professional to visit New Zealand in a long time, and has been responsible for developing leading-edge museum building programmes throughout the United States and further afield,” says gallery director Gregory Burke.

“His talk will provide a valuable opportunity for New Zealand audiences, in particular the museum community, to hear a consultant who specialises in museum development,” he said.

While in New Plymouth Mr Consey will also be talking to members of the Len Lye Foundation, the Govett-Brewster Foundation and New Plymouth District Council’s Len Lye working party. Berkeley Art Museum currently holds work by New Zealand artist Len Lye including a smaller version of Lye’s masterpiece Trilogy (a flip and two twisters), which will be on show at the gallery during Mr Consey’s visit.

New Plymouth District Council chief executive Rodger Kerr-Newell says Taranaki will benefit from Mr Consey’s wide expertise: “His presence will provide a major boost to discussions surrounding New Plymouth’s growing cultural developments and the reputation of the Govett-Brewster as a leader in introducing significant figures from the art and museum world to the New Zealand community.”

Also a leading management consultant, Consey has been director and chief executive of many US museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Newport Harbour Art Museum, California and the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas; and has held teaching positions at several universities throughout America. His lecture, New California Art and Artists, will examine the work of six artists whose diverse practice in photography, video and digital media is changing the rules of engagement in art practice in northern California.

During his time at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), Consey supervised the design, construction and management of a new 220,000 sq. ft. facility by architect Josef Paul Kleihues and a NZ$118 million building and endowment campaign.

“He also increased the non-collection assets of the MCA by 1400 per cent - from NZ$13 million to NZ$190.5 million – and the operating budget by 450 per cent – from NZ$4 million to NZ$18.8 million,” says Mr Burke.

“Membership soared from 3,000 to 16,500 and the scope of the collection increased as foundations and individuals gifted more to the growing organization,” he said.

As director and chief executive of California’s Newport Harbour Art Museum, Consey directed a programme and design for a new 89,000 sq. ft. art museum building designed by architect Renzo Piano. His list of recent clients includes museums in Madrid, the UK and notably the Pablo Ruiz Picasso Foundation in Malaga, Spain.

As director of San Francisco’s Berkeley Art Museum since 1999, Consey manages an international collection of 17,000 works of art and 11,000 films with an operating budget of approximately NZ$14.7 million. Utilising his experiences as a management consultant specialising in conceptual and strategic programme planning, Consey is currently working on a capital campaign and building project to replace the existing art museum facility and provide the artistic direction, management and political leadership for a large public university art museum and film archive.

Consey currently lectures in History of Art and English, runs classes in not-for-profit management and has held professorial positions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Texas in San Antonio and Hofstra University in New York.

Consey will be in New Zealand from 19 until 22 June. His lecture at the Govett Brewster will be held at 2.00pm on 20 June.

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